How we used SEO & programming to get 1M monthly traffic!

SEO can be an effort-intensive process. But, programming + SEO can quickly create 1000s of SEO-optimized pages! Here's all you need to know about programmatic SEO.

25th May 2022
5 min read

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Tag wise split:

    Stage 100

  • Early stage 33
  • Growth 33
  • Mature 34

  • Topic 100

  • Marketing 25
  • SEO 50
  • Distribution 25

  • Content Type 100

  • Learning 60
  • Startup Analysis 40

We absolutely love SEO at buildd!

"Why", you ask? You see, Google gets over 63,000 searches every second. That's 5.6 billion queries in a day!

Now, imagine even a small fraction of that traffic coming your way. That constant stream of users can do wonders for your startup.

Sadly, most SEO tactics are super effort-intensive. Take the example of blogs - they work brilliantly for SEO but creating 100s of unique pieces of quality content can be difficult.

So, how do you scale your SEO efforts then?

Well, the key lies in combining programming and SEO, to create 100s or even 1000s of SEO optimised pages automatically for you!

I know this sounds exciting and almost unreal. But, we have first-hand experience of doing this while scaling our startup's (Remote Tools) traffic to 1M every month!

So, read on to know more about this KILLER SEO strategy!

Firstly, what is Remote Tools?

Remote Tools, or RT for short, is a platform where you discover tools used for remote working.

On RT, startups can directly submit the details of their product via a simple form. And after a short review, their tool gets published on the website.

Given the diverse set of tools we receive, we organize these tools under different categories. This includes categories like productivity, remote hiring, product management, virtual office, etc.

Now, in a previous article, we explained how we used blogs to get close to a million monthly visitors on Remote Tools.

But, there is another strategy that has helped us drive more high-value traffic than our blogs. It's called "Programmatic SEO".

So, how do we use Programmatic SEO at Remote Tools?

Since Remote Tools is a tools repository, our target audience is naturally users who are looking for remote working tools online.

Now, to get these users we first need to understand what they are searching on Google. In our research, we came across two types of keywords with distinct search intent.

The first intent is to "explore" while the second is to "compare". Based, on these 2 intent types we have created 2 sets of pages — /category and /alternatives.

  1. Explore = Category Page ➝ "virtual office software", "code collaboration tools", "standup tools", "whiteboarding tools", "document collaboration tools", etc.
  2. Compare = Alternatives Page ➝ "doodle alternative", "total alternative", "zoho mail alternative", "loom alternative", "product hunt alternative", etc.

So, users performing a general exploration search for say, virtual office software tools will come across the category page. While users who are looking for an alternative tool for Zoho will come across the alternatives page.

The Product, Category & Alternatives Hierarchy

You already know that startups could directly submit the details about their tool on RT. So, we already had a bulk of data on 2500+ products on RT!

Product Page

Once the product is approved, this basic data appears directly on its "product" page on RT. Let me explain with an example:

  1. Product ➝ Flexiple
  2. Product Page ➝
  3. programmatic seo
  4. URL structure ➝
  5. Since Flexiple is a Freelance Hiring Platform, the product will basically come under the "Hiring Remote Talent" category.

  6. Category ➝ Hiring Remote Talent

Apart from this, the page contains the product's logo, a short description, "When to use sections", all the social media links, pricing models, etc.

Category Page

Now, on RT we have a total of 52 such products under the "Hiring Remote Talent" category. All these 52 products have their individual product pages.

But, since they fall under the same category, we have a separate "Category" page for them. The page looks something like this.

programmatic seo

These category pages are basically listicles that list all the 52 products under this category.

URL Structure ➝

Alternatives Page

Now, to target the alternatives type search query, each of these 52 pages has its own alternatives page.

programmatic seo

So, Flexiple's alternatives page will list all products similar to Flexiple in the remote hiring category. We compute this similarity programmatically using a simple formula that uses tag-based matching.

All the other 51 products will have their own page.

URL structure =

So, finally, for a single category, we get the count:

  • Product = 52 pages
  • Category = 1 page
  • Alternatives = 52 pages

So, what is Programmatic SEO?

Now that you know our strategy for creating automated "alternatives" and "category" pages, let's understand in general what Programmatic SEO is.

Programmatic SEO is a strategy where you use the data you have, to create hundreds of pages automatically.

The goal with these automated pages is simple - optimize them as you would do for a blog so they organically rank for the target Google search query!

So, basically, in this strategy, we have 2 major components:

  1. The Data — this is the main data that can be manually created or sourced (details about the products, in the case of RT)
  2. The Automated Pages — these pages are automatically generated using parts of that data to answer a particular search query (alternatives and category pages)

The automated pages end up picking content from the same data pool and organizing them into different combinations. So, ultimately, we can generate hundreds of such pages targeting a host of different keywords.

But, how do you implement this strategy?

Ultimately, the final blueprint of this strategy can be very different for your startup compared to our startup. So, how exactly can you go about creating your own personalized plan?

Well, all you have to do is follow these 5 steps!

1) Search for Target Terms (Keyword Research)

The first step is to find what your target users are searching for on Google.

Once you have that information, you can perform keyword research and figure out the type of automated pages based on different intent buckets.

A simple example of this is Zapiers App Integration pages.

Basically, Zapier has created these automatically generated app integration pages that target keywords of the type "app1 + app2 integration".

Pro Tip ➝ You can also research the types of pages your competitors have created to figure out your target terms!

2) Collect or Source Data

The second step is to get the basic data. You can either source the data from your users (like we did) or you can manually add this data (like Zapier does).

3) Create a Template

Now, all our alternatives and category pages follow a very simple, common template. The template basically includes all the main HTML elements like H1, H2, meta...

Apart from this, since our pages are essentially listicles, there is a set layout where the information for all the other tools appears.

4) Optimize these pages

Our ultimate goal is for these pages to rank for particular search queries. Now, during step 1 we should already have a set of target keywords.

In this step, all you have to do is infuse these keywords naturally within the text. You'll, of course, have to add the keywords to the URL (slug), Meta description, H1, H2, alt tags, etc.

5) Add Internal Links

Finally, no good SEO strategy can do without the step of internal linking. So, we should ideally internally link all these pages so the SEO juice flows throughout the structure.

The power of Programmatic SEO!

Now, here's a million-dollar question — why exactly should you implement this strategy? Well, there are a couple of reasons:

  1. Implementing Programmatic SEO is comparatively simple. Your efforts are limited to the 5 steps given above, apart from that the content for hundreds of these pages is populated automatically.
  2. These pages can target very specific long-tail keywords. These keywords have a very low search volume. But, since the total number of these pages is so high, cumulatively they manage to drive enough traffic.
  3. Finally, they target keywords with very high traffic value. That's because the keywords are extremely specific so they drive relevant traffic, generating a higher conversion rate!

On Remote Tools, from the trinity of the product, category, and alternatives pages, we drive traffic of ~50K+ each month. That's an inflow of fifty thousand high intent, high conversion users!


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How Glassdoor dominates backlinks through data-driven content

Simply put, Glassdoor offers 'data-driven content'. Let me explain.
It is a:
1) Job posting portal — employers can post & advertise open jobs
2) Job review portal — employees can share feedback about their company

On Glassdoor's website users share about everything from bosses & salaries to work culture & the hiring process. This data is then organized by the platform across different parameters.

Glassdoor uses the data to create:
1) Lists of top founders, companies, etc
2) Surveys presenting employee choices
3) Reports about trends & employee preferences

Data-driven content is shared extensively.
A couple years ago we published a report titled 'State of Remote Work'. People loved the insights that were included and shared it.
This report generated backlinks from 141 unique domains.

The Glassdoor website is full of data-driven content.
For example, they recently published the Workplace trends for 2022. This has insights around economic recovery after Covid-19, for instance. The information can be used by employees, newspapers and politicians.
So, the content is bound to be shared. When that happens, it generates backlinks.
This Glassdoor article has 360 backlinks in just over 2 months.

With so many high authority website backlinks, Glassdoor's domain authority is bound to go up. Glassdoor's DR is as high as 91, so they always rank at the top. Competitors would be lucky to beat Glassdoor!

So, finally, here's what you can learn from Glassdoor's SEO initiative:
1) Use data-driven content to get attention and links.
2) Website authority is key! It takes time & effort to buildd authority, but it's a huge boost to rank any content on your website higher on Google.

Not everyone gets it! - CRED's Ad Spend

CRED is used to pay credit card bills instantly which earns users “CRED coins”. They can use these coins to claim rewards and benefits.

But, that’s not it. Only users with a high credit score are allowed to access CRED, which helps CRED build a network of financially trustworthy individuals.

What next? CRED can lay different business models on top of this network like rent payments & peer-to-peer lending.

So IPL ads are a way for CRED to acquire users at scale, to build this trusted network.

But these ads cost CRED a whopping INR 216 Crores! That's INR 1271 to acquire a new user!

Over a lifetime, if 5% of users generate revenue, each user will have to generate INR 25,420 to make CRED money.

SEO Masterclass - Canva's strategy that powers 70M+ traffic!

Canva is doing extremely well in terms of SEO. It get's 73.2M organic traffic, has 12M+ backlinks & ranks for more than 5.5M keywords.

The top landing pages (subfolders) that significantly contribute to their website traffic are /create & /template page.

Canva has designed these pages to rank for two sets of keywords with different intent. The intent for the first set of keywords is "Informational". Users are basically looking for information about tools to make/build/create a design/poster/card.

On the other hand, for the second set, the intent is "Navigational". The user is looking to navigate to a particular template page. So they are essentially looking for birthday card templates to eventually create their own cards.

The /create page ranks for the first set, while the /template page ranks for the second set. These pages are divided into categories like logos, poster, flyers. These categories are then further divided into subcategories like marketing, birthday card, business, etc.

All the category & sub-category pages are internally linked. So, Canva can rank for a range of keywords - from generic keywords like "graphic templates" to very niche keywords like "thanksgiving flyer template".

Internal linking also translates the authority juice from top pages to the other pages on the website.

To make sure these category & sub-category pages are easily replicable, Canva uses a simple template where you only have to change a few elements to create a new page.